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Afrika (second edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Gaming outside my Comfort Zone rss

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I play tactical games; that is my first preference and has been for a very long time. Only a few operational-level games and even fewer strategic-level efforts have impressed me enough to play a second time.

Afrika II may go some way to changing this attitude. It took us nearly 4 weeks (in seven sessions over that period) to pull it off but we managed to complete the 28-turn campaign game in our first try. I had been told that this was THE game to have if one was to have only one game on the North African theatre. Good call.

I had played a little SCS (Standard Combat Series, of which this game belongs) before and, while I thought the system worked well, the games themselves were not particularly compelling. I had also sampled a few games on this theatre; Gazala 1942, Crusader, the old SPI Quad, Afika Korps and Beda Fomm. I liked Beda Fomm okay, but the scope of the game is pretty small and one could argue that the scale is practically on the tactical level. The Quads were okay...a bit generic though and not meaty enough to draw me back.

Afrika II, however, impressed me early on and, by the time we reached the last few turns, caused me to tell my opponent that he wasn't leaving until this thing was done. It's often difficult for me to articulate exactly why I like or dislike something, but I'll do my best.

- Smooth play; the SCS rules and the game-specific rules set are easy to learn and make sense. I found no ambiguity whatsoever whilst learning this game.
- Supply rules; normally I find checking & maintaining supply to be an unpleasant task and one that contributes to my reluctance to try much in the way of op-level gaming. In this case, however, the supply system is easy to manage with very little rules overhead. What's more, though, is that since supply concerns were so very critical to the Axis forces in North Africa, maintaining supply is absolutely essential and actually becomes one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. It felt weird to type that but I really think it's true in this case. It also made me realize why some of the other North African games I'd tried just fell flat for me -- they lacked this very important aspect.
- Great production values with colourful, easy to use maps & counters. Actual unit designations are printed on the counters and units come and go more or less as they did historically. That little bit of extra realism impressed me a great deal.
- Decision making; each and every turn is fraught with choices and careful short-term planning is critical. Managing supply is a big one, but you've also got air power to allocate (offensively and/or defensively). Another on going challenge that I enjoyed was simply making stacks. In the early part of our first game I grouped stacks by movement points, my rationale being that they can remain together and maximize their movement rate. In doing this I had overlooked some other very important possibilities, such as keeping exploit-capable units (only some units are able to move and overrun during the exploitation phase) together and to try to create combined-arms stacks to maximize column shift potential. Add to that all the usual game decisions revolving around terrain, manpower, enemy disposition, etc. and you've got yourself in a cliff-hanger situation turn after turn after turn.

In short, this is the op-level North Africa game I had always wanted, without even knowing why. I don't think I'm prepared to step up to DAK or DAK2 just yet, but I expect we'll roll this one out with regularity, it was that good.
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Ben Delp
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No question this is a great game. The length of the campaign scenario is the ONLY drawback to this game, in my opinion. I think the Gamers/MMP SCS Series is fantastic. I'm curious - you said some of the others in the series were not that compelling. Which ones left you underwhelmed?
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Magister Ludi
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Fremantle
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Thanks for the review...looks like this will have to be bumped up on the next to play list.
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Quote:
Which ones left you underwhelmed?


Yom Kippur was the only other SCS game I kinda liked, but not enough to keep it around.

Crusader, Gazala, Stalingrad Pocket (1st Ed) and Ardennes all passed through here without a full game having been completed. Of this group, going strictly by memory as I have no notes to refer to, I thought Crusader was not far off being a good game, but I was really looking for something with broader scope. Ardennes was my least favourite; we only got a half dozen turns in before packing it up. That's just me talkin', though, as plenty of WWII gamers really enjoy those games. I can be pretty hard to please!
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D T P
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I have been playing Ardennes for many years now. Many full length campaign games have been completed. For many years I considered it one of the finest games in my collection. I also felt it must be the shining star of the SCS system,

But last summer I found a new copy of Afrika (second edition). I have now played it through eight times. I am totally fascinated with this game. While Ardennes is good, Afrika II is much better. It is the shining star of the SCS system right now. It takes me back to my very beginning days of wargaming with AH's Afrika Korps. Afrika II is clearly one of the very best wargames I have ever played.

And I also have two other games from the SCS series. But both remain unpunched at this time. So who knows, maybe one of them is even better yet.
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